As open spaces are shrinking to allow for new housing, public parks are becoming more important than ever.
But parks these days are much more than communal hubs for outdoor activities such as kicking a ball.
The equipment often installed is inclusive so people with disabilities can enjoy it.
But there is also just more activities equipment in parks than ever before.
Gone are the days when the local council would develop a site for a new park, plonk a swing set and a couple of benches and bob’s your uncle.
A modern example in the Macarthur region is Lawson Reserve in Camden South (pictured), which was crowned the best playspace under $500,000 at the Parks and Leisure Australia (NSW/ACT) awards of excellence last week.
The Lawson Reserve playspace was upgraded for under $150,000 and some of the key improvements included replacement of existing play structures with structured experiences, including balance beams, grip and spin, rockers, swings and climbing rocks and nets.
Low impact, natural experiences such as stepping stones, vertical stepping logs and balance beams were installed at Lawson Reserve.
Other improvements included the provision of an accessible swing and resurfacing of the basketball facility to reduce noise concerns for surrounding residents.
As part of the upgrade an outdoor classroom space was created for the use of Macarthur Preschool.
The result has been a thoroughly modern park which plays an important role in the life of the community.
Mayor of Camden, Cr Theresa Fedeli, said the way the space was upgraded, and how it is now used, was very special to her.
“It was an honour to design and deliver Lawson Reserve in consultation with Macarthur Preschool, so we could help these children achieve key educational outcomes,” Cr Fedeli said.
“Macarthur Preschool now regularly use this space as an outdoor classroom for formal lessons including reading, discussions and craft. This is completely unique to this space.
“The children at Macarthur Preschool also collected foliage from surrounding trees and plants and pressed them into the wet concrete of one of the pathways. That pathway is now a beautiful mosaic of patterns made from these imprints.
“And, what’s really special, is the addition of accessible equipment,’’ Cr Fedeli said.
“There are 3,327 residents throughout Camden that need help in their day-to-day lives due to disability, and 768 of these residents are aged under 19 years.
“It was incredibly important to us that all of our residents had a beautiful space to enjoy.”